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Monday, 22 December 2014

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Iconic Cumbrian Lake District mountain for sale for £1.75m

A Lake District fell goes under the hammer today in what is thought to be a world first.

Hugh Lowther photo
Hugh Lowther, Earl of Lonsdale

Lord Lonsdale is selling Blencathra – which has been owned by his family for 400 years – for £1.75 million to help pay off an inheritance tax bill.

Hugh Lowther, the 8th Earl of Lonsdale, is also auctioning the title Lord of the Manor of Threlkeld, which is also up for grabs with H&H.

The buyer will be entitled to use the title Lord of the Manor of Threlkeld and can apply to the College of Arms for an individual Coat of Arms.

The 64-year-old Lord, a former long distance lorry driver for 15 years, has just 18 months to pay off the full sum of his £9m inheritance bill.

He decided to sell Blencathra instead of occupied houses, which would have risked evicting tenants.

John Robson, managing director of H&H Land and Property, which is handling the sale, said: “When the late Earl died about seven years ago he left an inheritance tax bill of about £9million. We are trying to bring that down to manageable proportions and to do that the current Earl has sold off bits of the estate. He would now like to maintain the family estate as a whole.”

Speaking to the News & Star after a press conference in Penrith, Lord Lonsdale said: “I sold a Turner painting to the Tate which is now on display at the Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle. I also sold a farm steading, some vacant cottages and now Blencathra.

“In the 1700s you could travel from St Bees Head to Northumberland without leaving Lowther land – but not anymore.”

He said he has only climbed Blencathra twice in his life – the last time when he was about 15 or 16. An accident in his teenage years prevents him walking for long stretches so the closest he comes to revelling in its beauty is from above – as a keen micropilot.

Mr Robson added: “This is the first time a Lake District mountain has been up for sale and it’s a unique investment opportunity. This sale will not be advertised in the usual way – it’s likely to attract global interest I would imagine. This really is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to buy one of the jewels in the Lake District’s crown, which is being sold on behalf of Lonsdale Estates.”

Blencathra, arguably the most imposing of the Lakeland Fells and commonly known as ‘Saddleback’ because of its distinctive shape, was dubbed ‘one of the grandest objects in Lakeland and one of the best known’ in famous fell walker Alfred Wainwright’s definitive guidebook.

It has long been incorporated into the Lake District National Park, preventing development, and walkers will always have the right to clamber up its slopes.

The fell, which is protected, has been part of the Lonsdale Estate for generations.

A long- running row in the family caused delays in paying the inheritance bill.

Lord Lonsdale said: “My family have owned Blencathra and its Manor for more than 400 years, so the sale of this iconic property will be a great loss.

“However, we need to realise capital for inheritance tax following the death of my father in 2006 and our aim is to retain the core portions of the Lonsdale Estates intact as far as is possible.”

The central flanks of Blencathra fall sharply on three sides towards the A66; to the West it adjoins the Skiddaw range, while to the north the land falls more gently towards Bowscale and the Uldale Fells.

Scales Tarn nestles in a bowl below the Eastern flank, surrounded by steep crags; it is overshadowed by Sharp Edge, the main route to the summit, which is famous among walkers and climbers. On a clear day you can see the Isle of Man.

The Blencathra massif is part of the Skiddaw Group Site of Special Scientific Interest and the Lake District High Fells Special Area of Conservation.

The open Saddleback Common is registered common land and is used by local farmers to graze sheep. Five historic lead mining sites are part of the massif, but there are no mines or mineral rights included in the sale.

However, the new owner will benefit from a new alternative energy scheme on Saddleback Common. The vendors have signed 50-year lease for a hydro electric project for an adjoining outdoor centre. The buyer will receive an annual £1,000 rent for the hydro energy site, plus a Royalty Rent of £4/megawatt hour for production over 1500MWH a year. Both rents will be reviewed every three years. The title Lord of the Manor of Threlkeld is named after the village that lies at the southern foot of the mountain. It dates back to the 12th Century.

Mr Robson said: “The Lordship of the Manor of Threlkeld is an ancient feudal title and we’re expecting international interest in what is really a chance of a lifetime to snap up a piece of Lakeland heritage.”

The Lordship of the Manor of Threlkeld itself was bought in the 1620s by the Lowther family, who have retained it to the present day and has now decided to sell the title after almost 400 years.

A website – www.blencathra.info – goes live today and final offers must be received by noon on Wednesday, July 2.

For more information contact H&H on 01228 406260 or email info@hhland.co.uk

 

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